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Strategic management is what managers do to develop the organization’s strategies. It’s an important task involving all the basic management functions—planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. What are an organization’s strategies? They’re the plans for how the organization will do whatever it’s in business to do, how it will compete successfully, and how it will attract and satisfy its customers in order to achieve its goals.
One term often used in strategic management is business model, which simply is how a company is going to make money. It focuses on two things: (1) whether customers will value what the company is providing and (2) whether the company can make any money doing that.
Why is strategic management so important? There are three reasons. The most significant one is that it can make a difference in how well an organization performs. In other words, it appears that organizations that use strategic management do have higher levels of performance. And that fact makes it pretty important for managers.
Another reason it’s important has to do with the fact that managers in organizations of all types and sizes face continually changing situations. They cope with this uncertainty by using the strategic management process to examine relevant factors and decide what actions to take.
Finally, strategic management is important because organizations are complex and diverse. Each part needs to work together toward achieving the organization’s goals; strategic management helps do this.
Although the first four steps describe the planning that must take place, implementation and evaluation are just as important! Even the best strategies can fail if management doesn’t implement or evaluate them properly.
Long Description: The first step “Identify the organization’s current mission, goals, and strategies” leads to “SWOT Analysis” which includes: External Analysis: Opportunities; Threats Internal Analysis: Strengths; Weaknesses The steps that follow, in sequence are: Formulate strategies Implement strategies Evaluate results
Every organization needs a mission—a statement of its purpose. Defining the mission forces managers to identify what it’s in business to do. But sometimes that mission statement can be too limiting.
What should a mission statement include? Exhibit 9-2 describes some typical components.
Source: Based on R. R. Davic, Strategic Management, 13th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2011.)
Long Description: The components are: Customers: Who are the firm’s customers? Markets: Where does the firm compete geographically? Concern for survival, growth, and probability: Is the firm committed to growth and financially stability? Philosophy: what are the firm’s basic beliefs, values, and ethical priorities? Concern for public image: how responsive is the firm to societal and environmental concerns? Products or services: what are the firm’s major products or services? Technology: if the firm technologically current? Self-concept: what are the firm’s major products or services? Concern for employees: are employees a valuable asset or a firm?
Analyzing that environment is a critical step in the strategic management process. Managers do an external analysis so they know, for instance, what the competition is doing, what pending legislation might affect the organization, or what the labor supply is like in locations where it operates. In an external analysis, managers should examine the economic, demographic, political/legal, sociocultural, technological, and global components to see the trends and changes.
Once they’ve analyzed the environment, managers need to pinpoint opportunities that the organization can exploit and threats that it must counteract or buffer against. Opportunities are positive trends in the external environment; threats are negative trends.
Now we move to the internal analysis, which provides important information about an organization’s specific resources and capabilities. An organization’s resources are its assets—financial, physical, human, and intangible—that it uses to develop, manufacture, and deliver products to its customers. They’re “what” the organization has. On the other hand, its capabilities are its skills and abilities in doing the work activities needed in its business—“how” it does its work. The major value-creating capabilities of the organization are known as its core competencies. Both resources and core competencies determine the organization’s competitive weapons.
After completing an internal analysis, managers should be able to identify organizational strengths and weaknesses. Any activities the organization does well or any unique resources that it has are called strengths. Weaknesses are activities the organization doesn’t do well or resources it needs but doesn’t possess.
The combined external and internal analyses are called the SWOT analysis, an analysis of the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. After completing the SWOT analysis, managers are ready to formulate appropriate strategies—that is, strategies that (1) exploit an organization’s strengths and external opportunities, (2) buffer or protect the organization from external threats, or (3) correct critical weaknesses.
As managers formulate strategies, they should consider the realities of the external environment and their available resources and capabilities in order to design strategies that will help an organization achieve its goals. The three main types of strategies managers will formulate include corporate, competitive, and functional. We’ll describe each shortly.
Once strategies are formulated, they must be implemented. No matter how effectively an organization has planned its strategies, performance will suffer if the strategies aren’t implemented properly.
The final step in the strategic management process is evaluating results. How effective have the strategies been at helping the organization reach its goals? What adjustments are necessary?
As we said earlier, organizations use three types of strategies: corporate, competitive, and functional (see Exhibit 9-3). Top-level managers typically are responsible for corporate strategies, middle-level managers for competitive strategies, and lower-level managers for the functional strategies. In this section, we’ll look at corporate strategies.
Long Description: The chart begins with “Multi-business corporation” (Corporate strategy) that branches out into competitive strategies of “Strategic Business Unit 1”, “Strategic Business Unit 2”, and “Strategic Business Unit 3.” “Strategic Business Unit 2” leads to functional strategies of “Research and Development”, “Manufacturing”, “Marketing”, “Human Resources” and “Finance.”
A corporate strategy is one that determines what businesses a company is in or wants to be in and what it wants to do with those businesses. It’s based on the mission and goals of the organization and the roles that each business unit of the organization will play.
Organizations grow by using concentration, vertical integration, horizontal integration, or diversification. An organization that grows using concentration focuses on its primary line of business and increases the number of products offered or markets served in this primary business. A company also might choose to grow by vertical integration, either backward, forward, or both. In backward vertical integration, the organization becomes its own supplier so it can control its inputs. In horizontal integration, a company grows by combining with competitors. Finally, an organization can grow through diversification, either related or unrelated. Related diversification happens when a company combines with other companies in different, but related, industries. Unrelated diversification is when a company combines with firms in different and unrelated industries.
Examples of a stability strategy include continuing to serve the same clients by offering the same product or service, maintaining market share, and sustaining the organization’s current business operations. The organization doesn’t grow, but doesn’t fall behind, either.
Managers need to develop strategies, called renewal strategies, that address declining performance. The two main types of renewal strategies are retrenchment and turnaround strategies.
When an organization’s corporate strategy encompasses a number of businesses, managers can manage this collection, or portfolio, of businesses using a tool called a corporate portfolio matrix. This matrix provides a framework for understanding diverse businesses and helps managers establish priorities for allocating resources. The first portfolio matrix—the BCG matrix—was developed by the Boston Consulting Group and introduced the idea that an organization’s various businesses could be evaluated and plotted using a 2 × 2 matrix to identify which ones offered high potential and which were a drain on organizational resources. The horizontal axis represents market share (low or high), and the vertical axis indicates anticipated market growth (low or high). A business unit is evaluated using a SWOT analysis and placed in one of the four categories listed.
For a small organization in only one line of business or a large organization that has not diversified into different products or markets, its competitive strategy describes how it will compete in its primary or main market. For organizations in multiple businesses, however, each business will have its own competitive strategy that defines its competitive advantage, the products or services it will offer, the customers it wants to reach, and the like.
When an organization is in several different businesses, those single businesses that are independent and that have their own competitive strategies are referred to as strategic business units (SBUs).
Developing an effective competitive strategy requires an understanding of competitive advantage, which is what sets an organization apart—that is, its distinctive edge. That distinctive edge can come from the organization’s core competencies by doing something that others cannot do or doing it better than others can do it.
If a business is able to continuously improve the quality and reliability of its products, it may have a competitive advantage that can’t be taken away.
Many organizations are making substantial investments in social media because its use can provide a competitive advantage.
Anything that can help a firm build a moat around its business can help it sustain a competitive advantage. A patent or high-switching costs are examples of moats.
Many important ideas in strategic management have come from the work of Michael Porter. One of his major contributions was explaining how managers can create a sustainable competitive advantage. An important part of doing this is an industry analysis, which is done using the five forces model.
In any industry, five competitive forces dictate the rules of competition. Together, these five forces determine industry attractiveness and profitability, which managers assess using the five factors listed.
When an organization competes on the basis of having the lowest costs (costs or expenses, not prices) in its industry, it’s following a cost leadership strategy. A low-cost leader is highly efficient. Overhead is kept to a minimum, and the firm does everything it can to cut costs.
A company that competes by offering unique products that are widely valued by customers is following a differentiation strategy. Product differences might come from exceptionally high quality, extraordinary service, innovative design, technological capability, or an unusually positive brand image. Practically any successful consumer product or service can be identified as an example of the differentiation strategy.
Although these two competitive strategies are aimed at the broad market, the final type of competitive strategy—the focus strategy—involves a cost advantage (cost focus) or a differentiation advantage (differentiation focus) in a narrow segment or niche. Segments can be based on product variety, customer type, distribution channel, or geographical location.
What happens if an organization can’t develop a cost or a differentiation advantage? Porter called that being stuck in the middle and warned that’s not a good place to be. An organization becomes stuck in the middle when its costs are too high to compete with the low-cost leader or when its products and services aren’t differentiated enough to compete with the differentiator. Getting unstuck means choosing which competitive advantage to pursue and then doing so by aligning resource, capabilities, and core competencies.
We don’t cover specific functional strategies in this book because you’ll cover them in other business courses you take.
Some firms such as Rolex, Nordstrom, and others use quality as a way to create a sustainable competitive advantage. Other firms, such as Procter & Gamble, search for ways to transfer technology from one division to another to gain competitive advantage. Some firms invest heavily in R&D and others attempt to improve processes. Being the first one to bring an innovation to market is also one way to gain competitive advantage.
Exhibit 9.4 shows that there are also disadvantages to being the first mover.
Long Description: The advantages are as follows: Reputation for being innovative and industry leader Cost and learning benefits. Control over scarce resources and keeping competitors from having access to them. Opportunity to begin building customer relationships and customer loyalty The disadvantages are as follows: Uncertainty over exact direction technology and market will go Risk of competitors imitating innovations Financial and strategic risks High development costs
Firms can also differentiate themselves by providing outstanding customer service, allowing numerous ways for customers to create their own product, and use social media to their advantage.
Successful social media strategies should help people connect and either reduce costs, increase revenues, or both.
Strategic management is what managers do to develop the organization’s strategies. Strategies are the plans for how the organization will do whatever it’s in business to do, how it will compete successfully, and how it will attract and satisfy its customers in order to achieve its goals. A business model is how a company is going to make money. Strategic management is important for three reasons. First, it makes a difference in how well organizations perform. Second, it’s important for helping managers cope with continually changing situations. Finally, strategic management helps coordinate and focus employee efforts on what’s important.
The six steps in the strategic management process encompass strategy planning, implementation, and evaluation. These steps include the following: (1) identify the current mission, goals, and strategies; (2) do an external analysis; (3) do an internal analysis (steps 2 and 3 collectively are known as SWOT analysis); (4) formulate strategies; (5) implement strategies; and (6) evaluate strategies. Strengths are any activities the organization does well or its unique resources. Weaknesses are activities the organization doesn’t do well or resources it needs. Opportunities are positive trends in the external environment. Threats are negative trends.
A growth strategy is when an organization expands the number of markets served or products offered, either through current or new businesses. The types of growth strategies include concentration, vertical integration (backward and forward), horizontal integration, and diversification (related and unrelated). A stability strategy is when an organization makes no significant changes in what it’s doing. Both renewal strategies—retrenchment and turnaround—address organizational weaknesses leading to performance declines. The BCG matrix is a way to analyze a company’s portfolio of businesses by looking at a business’s market share and its industry’s anticipated growth rate. The four categories of the BCG matrix are cash cows, stars, question marks, and dogs.
An organization’s competitive advantage is what sets it apart, its distinctive edge. A company’s competitive advantage becomes the basis for choosing an appropriate competitive strategy. Porter’s five forces model assesses the five competitive forces that dictate the rules of competition in an industry: threat of new entrants, threat of substitutes, bargaining power of buyers, bargaining power of suppliers, and current rivalry. Porter’s three competitive strategies are as follows: cost leadership (competing on the basis of having the lowest costs in the industry), differentiation (competing on the basis of having unique products that are widely valued by customers), and focus (competing in a narrow segment with either a cost advantage or a differentiation advantage).
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